Nearly 4 million Angelenos will be reduced to two-day-a-week watering restrictions on June 1 under drought rules released by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Tuesday.
The long-awaited announcement came two weeks after the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California called for the region’s most stringent water shutoffs in history due to worsening drought conditions and reduced supplies from the California State Water. MWD’s action left many wondering how the rules would apply in Los Angeles.
Unlike some water agencies affected by the district’s order of a 35% reduction, the DWP has opted not to return to the one-day-a-week watering rules. Instead, it will focus on staying at or below a monthly volumetric allocation, senior officials said.
“We chose to use the award number because we still have our own aqueduct supplies, our own groundwater, and we have the ability to transfer some of our demands to the Colorado River, where there are no restrictions,” said Martin Adams. , the CEO and chief engineer of the DWP. “We think that going to water two days a week and getting people to really pay attention and reduce their water consumption will keep us within the allocation that the Met has offered us.”
The new Phase 3 rules will apply to everyone in the DWP’s coverage area, not just those who rely on supplies from the State Water Project, Adams said.
Under the rules, residents will be assigned two watering days a week based on odd and even numbered addresses, with a watering limit of just eight minutes. Those who don’t comply will receive a warning, followed by escalating fines for each subsequent violation, he said.
The outdoor watering plan released Tuesday is less restrictive than that of other nearby agencies, including the Three Valleys Municipal Water District, which will move some areas to Phase 5 of its ordinance. Mayor Eric Garcetti told The Times this was because Angelenos have already made progress conserving water. For example, DWP customers have been in Phase 2, which includes three-day-a-week watering rules, since 2009.
“If you just look at watering days per week, it feels like less, but if you look holistically, DWP has done, is, and will do more than most of those agencies collectively in all sorts of different places,” he said. Garcetti, noting that the city has also invested heavily in rebate programs for lawn replacement and appliance upgrades to improve residents’ water efficiency.
The mayor also said he hopes to move away from the notion of “feast and famine” when it comes to water in Los Angeles.
“I will never walk away from urgency and focus, but I don’t think that means [we need] the stress and nihilism of ‘LA can’t do this,’” he said. “Absolutely we can, we must and we must.”
Garcetti’s message was more upbeat than that delivered by MWD officials just weeks ago, when General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said “we’re seeing conditions unlike anything we’ve seen before,” and urged serious reductions in usage. of the water. He and other water officials said the shutoffs were necessary because the driest January, February and March on record left California with scant snow cover and depleted reserves.
Hagekhalil said the goal was to reduce water use among areas dependent on the State Water Project from about 125 gallons per person per day, including the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, to 80 gallons to avoid stricter cuts. If conditions don’t improve, he said, a total outdoor watering ban could come as soon as September.
DWP officials said their customers already average 112 gallons per person per day, less than half of what other nearby agencies consume. The combination of watering twice a week throughout the service area, enhanced conservation efforts, and other local supplies means they can limit residents to about 105 gallons per person per day and still stay within the MWD allotment. .
“I think that number would be very successful in helping us get through this drought,” Adams said.
The move to Phase 3 also triggers other measures, including a call for residents to use pool covers to slow evaporative water loss. Exceptions will remain for drip irrigation and manual irrigation.
The DWP will also increase patrols to look for people who violate the rules or waste water. However, Adams said, the plan is less about punishment and more about being proactive.
“You tell people how much water they use in a day and they are surprised,” he said. “People usually have no idea about that, but once they know, they pay attention… What it takes is continuous messaging to customers so that people realize that this is important, that they need to do these things. changes, and that will result in real savings.”
Anselmo Collins, senior deputy general manager for DWP’s water system, said the city is also looking at longer-term solutions, including encouraging MWD to build a conveyance system that would allow DWP’s entire service area to gain access. to regional services. storage supplies.
Other long-term plans include enhanced capabilities for groundwater remediation, stormwater capture and water recycling, Collins said. A major initiative, Operation Next, aims to recycle up to 100% of the purified wastewater from Hyperion’s water reclamation plant by 2035.
The agency is also replacing aging infrastructure and has set a goal of replacing about 200,000 linear feet of pipe each year, he said. Although several major water breaks during a previous drought were attributed to changes in irrigation rules in Los Angeles, Collins said that was not the case, and the DWP’s water loss remains “one of the lowest ever.” the country”.
The restrictions will now go to the City Council for final approval, officials said. Collins said he believed Angelenos could achieve the necessary savings under the new rules.
“We use as much water today as we did 50 years ago with over a million people in the city, and that’s because of conservation,” he said. “We believe that all the efforts that Angelenos have made throughout all these decades is the reason that we can move into this phase, two days a week, and be able to rise to the challenge.”